West sanctions China over Xinjiang abuses, Beijing hits back at EU

This is the first time the EU slaps sanctions on Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown

By REUTERS*

POLICE ARREST a protester after a Chinese flag was removed from a flag pole at a rally in Hong Kong yesterday in support of Xinjiang Uighurs’ human rights.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LUCY NICHOLSON)
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BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON – The United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials on Monday for human rights abuses in Xinjiang, in the first such coordinated Western action against Beijing under new U.S President Joe Biden.

Beijing hit back immediately with punitive measures against the EU that appeared to be broader, including European lawmakers, diplomats, institutes and families, and banning their businesses from trading with China.

Western governments are seeking to hold Beijing accountable for mass detentions of Muslim Uighurs in northwestern China, where the United States says China is committing genocide.

China denies all accusations of abuse.

The coordinated effort appeared to be early fruit in a concerted U.S. diplomatic push to confront China in league with allies, a core element of the Biden administration’s still evolving China policy.

Senior U.S. administration officials have said they are in daily contact with governments in Europe on China-related issues, something they call the “Europe roadshow.”

“Amid growing international condemnation, (China) continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in statement ahead of meetings with EU and NATO ministers in Brussels this week.

Canada’s foreign ministry said: “Mounting evidence points to systemic, state-led human rights violations by Chinese authorities.”

Activists and U.N. rights experts say at least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilizations. China denies rights abuses in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

The European Union was the first to impose sanctions on Monday on four Chinese officials, including a top security director, and one entity, a decision that was mirrored by Britain and Canada later in the day.

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